[Defense in Brief] Navy tests hypersonic weapons that could strike anywhere in the world very quickly

The U.S. Navy recently tested a hypersonic weapon that is capable of striking targets anywhere on the planet with a conventional weapon within an hour. Last week the Navy performed a flight test featuring Prompt Global Strike, a hypersonic weapon system designed to give the U.S. the ability to quickly strike targets worldwide with almost no notice. Interst in such weapons began in 2001, when then-President George W. Bush expressed an interest in quick-strike global weapons. The idea was to develop conventionally-armed ballistic missiles capable of precision strike quickly based on real-time data when carrier-based aircraft and other systems could not respond fast enough. The Prompt Global Strike project was thus born. The Navy tested a “boost glide” hypersonic weapon capable of travel at speeds of Mach 5 10 Mach 10. Typically, boost-glide missiles sit atop a regular ballistic missile but then detach and travel with blistering speed to their target. “Boost glide weapons have a different flight profile from ballistic missiles, detaching before the missile leaves the atmosphere, so they’re relatively easy to differentiate on a radar screen from a regular ballistic missile that could be carrying a nuke,” reports Popular Mechanics.

Jon E. Dougherty is a political, foreign policy and national security analyst and reporter with nearly 30 years of experience in both fields. A U.S. Army veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom, he holds BA in Political Science from Ashford University and an MA in National Security Studies/Intelligence Analysis from American Military University.

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